How does Newton compare?
The recent crime stats reported by the Newton County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) show a recent rise in violence in the community. But how do Newton County’s numbers compare to those of other counties in Georgia?
There have been five murders in Newton County in 2016 as of July, while they were seven in 2015 altogether. According to Sheriff Ezell Brown, there have been 13 murders in the last 18 months.
Rockdale County, Newton’s neighboring county to the west, has had one murder in 2016, according to reports gathered by the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office. In 2015, the county had four, which is three less than Newton that same year.
The two counties do, however, currently look identical in one category: assault. Both counties have reported 67 assaults so far in 2016 and are on pace to potentially match or surpass their numbers from 2015: 128 in Rockdale and 99 in Newton.
In 2014, Newton County reported three murders, according to the Georgia crime statistics gathered by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). That same year, neighboring Walton County had four and Morgan County had zero. In 2008, when Newton County saw a high of 10 murders, Morgan County had zero and Walton had five.*
According to the Walton County’s Uniform Crime Report (UCR), Walton County had zero murders in 2015 and so far in 2016, but the county’s current total of aggravated assaults (30) in 2016 is on pace to surpass last year’s total (49).
Nearby Jackson County has also seen a
spike in aggravated assaults. While the county reported 35 of these crimes in both 2015 and 2014, there have been 20 midway through 2016. The county has also experienced eight robberies through the first six months of the year versus four in 2015.
Fayette County, a community south of the perimeter with a similar population size and distance from Atlanta to Newton County, has relatively lower crime numbers in comparison. According to the county’s UCR, the community had one homicide and 32 aggravated assaults in 2015. In 2010, while Newton County reported 335 violent crimes, Fayette reported 31. The numbers for 2016 were unavailable at the time of publication.
According to Officer Allan Seebaran of the Covington Police Department, the city of Covington has seen its own increase in crime that is also consistent with other surrounding jurisdictions. There have been 17 robberies as of July 27, which exceeds Covington’s total around this time last year (eight as of July 31, 2015). The same is true for thefts and assaults. There have been 309 thefts thus far compared to 275 during this time last year and 120 assaults compared to the previous 91. Identifying one sole reason for the spike in crime is difficult given the unique individual cases.
“It is hard to opine on the causation for the increased violent crimes without interviewing the individuals committing them,” said Seebaran. “This is not only a Covington issue nor is it just a Newton County issue when it comes to violent crimes, but it’s a problem that’s increasing statewide and nationally. I however would say that the economy, the current social and spiritual climate has some part to play in this.”
Ken Malcolm, a criminology instructor at Georgia State University, agrees that there is no one cause, but he also believes the summer is a huge component.
“Typically, based on years of research, violent crimes will occur more often in the hot summer months,” Malcom said. “In each of these [murder] cases [in Newton County], the majority of them have been outside of the [Covington] city limits. But again, there are a variety of reasons, from domestic issues to drug use to drug sales. Each case is unique.”
According to Brown, the uptick in crime is not isolated to Newton County alone.
“High crime rate is a national issue at hand,” the Sheriff said in a press release. “There has been an uptick locally in criminal activity. I believe some of the contributing factors include the lack of employment, not having the manpower to interact and patrol in those high crime areas and the lack of community and religious based programs.”
Though Newton County is currently experiencing a rise, numbers show that the problem is not solely within this community.
“I do not think Newton County is unique,” Malcom said.